Enter the world of “Harry Gota” and step into a journey that took a multidisciplinary team of students and Art Center faculty from their green hillside campus in Pasadena to the slums of Chile’s Compamento San Jose. The Harry Gota story begins in 2008 as a collaboration between Art Center and Un Techo para mi Pais. A non-profit organization, Un Techo strives to change the face of poverty with a sustainable and inclusive model for development. Using their design skills, students created six products and systems to help people in the compamento gain access to running water. Simple solutions. Cost effective solutions. Solutions that improve lives.

With the products in development, new issues arose. A way to understand the design outcomes was needed; it had to resonate with people living in the compamentos, as well as people attending international conferences and exhibitions, and it had to entertain, as well as educate. These issues were brought to Art Center’s Motion Graphics Director, in the Graphic Design Department, Ming Tai, and solutions came in the form of an animated drop of water named Harry Gota. (“Gota” is Spanish for drop.) It’s Harry, who introduces the viewers to the life-changing products that emerged from the Designmatters multi-term collaboration with Techo and the project known as Safe Agua.

Once the decision was made to tell the story through the eyes of the little drop, the team found what they were searching for… a way into the campamento. They started creating “Harry’s World, a world that is distinctly unhigh-tech, a place where a shack is still a shack. They captured the roughness of the campamento and, at the same time, the bright colors chosen for their palette (seen in the deconstructed plank fences,) were clearly informed by Harry’s upbeat nature.

This is the launching pad for Harry Gota, whose story incorporates a global presence, as well as a strong “feel good” aspect. Harry’s character may be used by Un Techo to help identify their group and their aims, as this likable little drop is one that kids understand. He makes it possible for them to explain things to their parents, too – an indirect way of educating a larger population.

For Ming Tai, The Harry Gota Story is “a story that works because the students made the shift from designers to motion choreographers and made this thing dance.”

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